Photos by Jean Allsopp
In the South, the table has always played an important part in our lives. From daily dinners to special occasions, it serves as the vessel that brings us together to break bread and share stories. That’s why Patricia Murray, owner of Mountain Brook establishment Table Matters, works her way around the world to find the inspiring items needed to help her customers set the table and entertain with ease. “Entertaining is part of our culture,” says Patricia. “We appreciate gathering around the table with friends and family. I want to make it easy and enjoyable for people to do.”
Patricia’s appreciation for setting a beautiful table began at a young age. Growing up in a small Arkansas town, she often watched her grandmother throw dinner parties. “Family would come from all over, and my grandmother would always pull out her best china and silver,” Patricia says. “I remember having so many people gathered around the table laughing, telling stories, and enjoying time together.”
“I hope the shop inspires customers to
get out the silver, china, or whatever it is that they’ve had forever and see it in a new light. I want them to be excited to invite friends
and family over for dinner.”
To help others create some of their own memories around an impressively dressed table, Patricia offers an extensive and unique array of accountrements in her shop, from dinnerware, flatware, and drinkware to linens, serve ware, and decorative accessories. Some of the pieces she carries are traditional, such as antique silver and porcelain, but she also offers many modern, unique options, such as glass tableware from Crisp Galleries in Australia or handcrafted Busatti linens from Italy. For Patricia, it’s all about showing customers how to mix and match and incorporate old and new pieces to curate a look that draws everyone to the table. “A beautiful table doesn’t have to be fancy or all about grandmother’s old china and silver,” Patricia says. “It just needs to be welcoming, inviting, and a reflection of your lifestyle.”
Setting the Holiday Table
Curating an eye-catching table is easier than you think. Here, Patricia shares her expertise to set your holiday table in style.
Start strategically. Begin with the dinner plate and build the look around that. Choose a color in the plate to play off of, and layer in other items from there. And keep in mind that just because it’s the holidays, the color scheme doesn’t have to be traditional red and green. Jewel tones are a good option if you want to really
dress things up.
Welcome nature to the table. Include natural elements on the table to add interest. Cut some floral stems or greenery from the yard to use as a centerpiece, but keep them low so that they don’t inhibit conversation across the table. Use feather place mats (at left) or a plate featuring a natural element like the Astier de Villatte mushroom salad plate and acrylic acorn place mat (bottom left).
Don’t be matchy-matchy. A beautiful table design doesn’t mean everything has to match. Mix and match various colors and patterns and even antique pieces with more modern ones. For example, if you don’t like all the pieces from your grandmother’s china, pick one you like and put new pieces with it. You don’t have to stick to one particular design or style. Don’t be afraid
to mix and match.
Let there be light. Candlelight is a must. Candles come in so many colors, so choose what speaks to you. Blush colors are good options for the holiday season because they blend well with other hues.
Learn to layer. To add more interest to the table, layer in various textures and patterns, from patterned tablecloths to velvet metallic ribbon to greenery.
Don’t overlook the linens. Linens are a crucial part of your tablescape. Always make sure napkins are fresh, and consider using a linen color that plays off the china. Or have your napkins monogrammed to add an extra personal touch that really dresses up the table.
Table Matters, 2402 Montevallo Road
Mountain Brook, AL 35223
205.879.0125 • table-matters.com.
Floral designs by Mary Cox, Marigold Designs, @marigolddesign; marigold-designs.com.